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This Week in Beat Making: Major Lazer and a Crowd-Sourced Dancehall Competition

May the best riddim win!

I met Walshy Fire a few months ago in the parking lot of the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, North Carolina. His band, Major Lazer, was in town to perform at the Cradle that evening, and soundcheck was just wrapping up when he emerged, with a smile, from the tour bus.

Walshy had been in contact with my colleague Apple Juice Kid about collaborating with our community music project, Beat Making Lab. It was his first time in the area, so we took him to dinner at our favorite restaurant, Vimala's Curry Blossom.

*Sidenote: if you ever find yourself within a 50-mile radius of Chapel Hill, North Carolina you're going to want to make a stop at Vimala's Curry Blossom for some conscious, local, organic, South Indian deliciousness.

Walshy is a sharp, Miami-based brother with Jamaican roots. He had a lot of great ideas and we brainstormed with him for hours about how to use music to empower communities. After dinner we returned to the tour bus and the discussion continued with Major Lazer's founder DipLo, who told us about his work with underprivileged and Indigenous youth through Heaps Decent. After some fruitful dialogue, I left the bus and watched Major Lazer rock one of the best parties I had seen in recent memory. Today, some of the seeds that were planted in those conversations are beginning to bear fruit.

Walshy Fire has agreed to judge our #SenegalChallenge. I first announced the crowd-sourced beat making competition a few weeks ago, here. The challenge is for beat makers around the world to make a Jamaican dancehall riddim, using a West African kora sample, which we captured on the streets of Dakar, Senegal. It's part of a fun experiment we've devised encouraging beat makers to look within their own communities to find interesting samples, sounds, rhythms and ideas to inspire beats.


Get instructions and download the sample here. Major Lazer is at the forefront of modern electronic dancehall and reggae music, having produced some of the most exciting riddims of the past few years, so we are excited that Walshy has agreed to judge submissions and select a champion (or a BOSS, as he puts it). The best beats win free SoundCloud Pro accounts, and will appear on our "Kora Riddim" EP, which will premiere on Mad Decent July 5th.

Please share our the #SenegalChallenge with established, or aspiring beat makers. May the best riddim win!

Beat Making Lab builds studios in cultural centers around the world and trains youth musicians in the art of beat making. This post is part of This Week in Beat Making, a weekly series on GOOD—follow our adventures with new episodes here every Wednesday.

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